Which car do I choose?

I have a 98 Olds Intrigue which needs a lot of work. It needs brake work, two tires; new rear struts and has a hole in the exhaust. It is starting to rust and has 155k on it. It would need a minimum of $1,200 to get it to pass state inspection. I do like the car.

My parents said I could have their 01 Ford Focus. The car has 100k on it and needs a new catalytic converter and a.c. compressor if I care to replace it. My regular mechanic hasn’t gotten back to me yet with a price, but a dealership quoted me $1,600 to replace both items. The real question I have is how bad is it that the car has been sitting in their garage for the past two years, only being driven about 60 miles in that time. Even if I fix the compressor am I possibly going to have other ac issues since it’s been sitting?

Another rub is that I’ll have to fly from Boston to Atlanta to get it, and tow it behind a moving truck back to Ma.

I had a Focus in the past and found it to be just okay. Underpowered, but the mileage would be better than the olds.

If you had to choose, which car would you fix?

Two years isn’t too bad on a car, but you might want to have a mechanic check your hoses, etc. just to be on the safe side. Definitely get the oil changed, radiator flushed and change the fuel filter.

Which one to choose? That’s up to you. But then again, if someone were to offer me a free car I wouldn’t refuse.

Are you positive on the Ac diagnosis on the Focus? It might just need a recharge. The rust is the only non maintenance issue with the intrigue, but that is usually a dealbreaker. Why can’t you fix the Focus and drive it back? You might need to also change the tires on the car that has been sitting for 2 years. I have acquired cars in the past that have been in a garage for 10 years and haven’t required much to get back on the road.

The rust damage is probably much worse than you can see unless you are certain that it is only on the outside, say from damaged paint. If it is topical rust, abrade it off and prime the spot. You could also repaint with spray from GM. Even though Olds is out of business, other GM dealers will get items for you.

If it is not topical rust, get the Focus, especially if you live in Boston. You will appreciate the increased mileage for in-town traffic. The converter can be an aftermarket item, which will reduce the part cost by about half. See if your mechanic uses aftermarket converters. Get a second opinion on the A/C problem. It does get hot in Boston, though not as much as Atlanta. July/August can be over 90F and it is humid there.

You’re dead even here. Fix the one you like.